Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and two tanning product companies alongside two social media influencers
Where: United Kingdom
When: 3 February 2021
Law stated as at: 5 February 2021
Three social media stories were challenged as being misleading as it was believed that a filter exaggerated the efficacy of the advertised cosmetic products. The stories posted on the social media accounts of both companies featured stories from an influencer promoting the brand’s products.
One company argued that the posts they had reported were not made at their request for as part of a commercial relationship but rather that this was a genuine review of their products.
The other company argued that video was to act as a demonstration on how to apply the product rather than to describe its efficacy.
In their adjudications, the ASA noted that filters were included as an in-app feature on the social media platform, and included ‘beauty filters’, designed to enhance a person’s appearance.
Why this matters:
Although the ASA considered that the use of filters in ads was not inherently problematic, it is important for advertisers of cosmetic products to take particular care not to exaggerate or otherwise misled consumers regarding the product advertised.
The ASA will consider ad(s) as a whole and may, such as in this instance, conclude that from the imagery and wording, consumers would expect to experience similar results to the influencer’s appearance in the ads.
As the ads conveyed a tanning effect of the product, the ASA considered that the application of a filter (which resulted in a significantly darker skin tone and/or added freckles and a smoothed complexion) to the images was directly relevant to the claimed performance of the product and gave a misleading impression about the performance capabilities of the product.